It may not be the first of its kind, but Mushroom Wars (out now, $1.99) has spiced up its battle play with a few extras seldom seen in similar RTS games. The basic gameplay is familiar. You’re in control of one or more bases (orange mushroom villages in this case) and have to send out your troops to attack foreign bases (neutral gray villages and hostile blue villages). All it takes to initiate your command is a swipe of your finger from your base to the target. In many RTS games of this nature, half of the population in a base will be dispatched with each order. In Mushroom Wars, you can control the number of troops you send out, from 25 percent to as much as 100 percent. You can select the number by means of a slider bar.
As with other similar RTS games, this is a battle of numbers. To win control of a base, you will have to attack it with a greater number of troops than it has. However, except in the first few levels, you won’t know how many troops reside in an enemy base.
In addition to the ability to control the strength of your outgoing forces, Mushroom Wars also blends in a teeny bit of tower defense. Aside from villages, you’ll get to gain control of fortresses. If you own a fortress, it will hurl projectiles at approaching enemy troops, but these towers aren’t invincible. Like villages, fortresses can quickly get overrun. And unlike villages, the population within a fortress will not multiply. As in tower defense games, both villages and fortresses can be upgraded, and all it takes is a double tap (permissible only when a blue upgrade arrow appears). Upgrading doesn’t cost money but population count.
Mushroom Wars has cute graphics and offers 27 levels, not including additional challenges, such as tournaments. While it began as a console game, this port by SMS Services feels very natural on the iPad. The basic gameplay is simple, but gets increasingly challenging as you progress through the levels. When you start off a map outnumbered by enemy forces, battle tactics and speed become more critical.
iFanzine Verdict: Overall, Mushroom Wars is well executed. With its intuitive gameplay and simple controls, casual gamers should be able to pick it up quite instantly. Those fond of more complex RTS games may perhaps find this too straightforward for their taste—not that Mushroom Wars doesn’t offer its share of challenges. The game’s biggest drawback is probably its iOS 6.x requirement, so if you own nothing newer than the original iPad you’re out of luck.